Srinagar: The Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for the fifth consecutive day on Friday though the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has started work on a war footing to construct the Bailey bridge and restore traffic on the only all weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.
Traffic on the highway was suspended on Sunday evening after retaining wall of a main bridge at Kela Morh in Ramban collapsed and there was no alternative to allow traffic. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has also started construction of the retaining wall of the main bridge which collapsed on Sunday.
Today we have also closed the Banihal-Kela Morh Ramban road for weekly maintenance, official sources told UNI. He said every Friday traffic remained suspended on the highway to allow NHAI to undertake necessary repair and maintenance work on the highway.
Since the construction damaged wall of the bridge could take more than two weeks, help from the BRO was sought to install a bailey bridge to restore traffic between Kashmir valley and rest of the country, sources said.
More than 50 per cent work on the bailey bridge has been completed and it will take few more days before allowing traffic on the highway, they said.
About 6000 vehicles, including trucks loaded with essentials and oil tankers are stranded at different places on the 270-km-long highway. This has resulted in shortage of essentials, particularly fresh vegetables and meat. However, import of poultry has been banned by the administration. Prices of vegetables and fruits have increased many fold since the closure of the highway.
Traffic official said Kashmir and Jammu bound vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the damaged bridge at Kela Morh as there is no alternative to divert the traffic.
Meanwhile, people alleged that the prices of essentials, particularly fresh vegetables have increased after the highway was closed.
The Mughal road, which is seen as an alternative to Srinagar-Jammu national highway also remained closed since December last year due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. The road connects Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region.
The road connecting Anantnag in south Kashmir with Kishtwar in Jammu region also remained closed due to snowfall.
The Srinagar-Leh national highway has also been declared closed for winter months by the authorities from January Ist, 2021.